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My neighbor's sister made a huge cassoulet for my neighbor's birthday dinner last night, and invited me to watch her assemble it on Friday. Sister is married to a Frenchman and spends about half the year in France--this is the technique she learned most recently. It was amazingly non-fussy, quick to assemble, and heart-breakingly delicious served with a light fresh salad and lots of home-made bread & whipped butter.
For eight folks, four duck thighs, 4 duck legs [in retrospect she said she should've used more duck], 4 Italian sausages, 2 kielbasa, 2 bratwurst, the sausages cut into 2 inch pieces. First she browned 4 slices of salt pork, cut in half, in about 2 T of olive oil on top of the stove in a large roasting pan, then added the rest of the meats to brown. After 10 mins she removed the meat and added 1 minced oinion, a few cloves of garlic [careful, she said, if you have garlic-y sausages], and a couple shallots, all finely minced, and softened in the fat. Then one large carrot cut in chunks, and a couple celery stalks, de-threaded, cut in chunks. Then the meat went back in, along with 2# of small white beans, soaked for about 4 hours--Great Northern beans, because she wasn't able to get the French beans she prefers. Then, she added enough water to cover the beans, and a few sprigs of rosemary and parsley from the yard [she said sage is good, too], and about 1/2 cup strong tomato sauce--she said the best thing to use is the very concentrated tomato paste from a tube--and, she said, ONLY a small amount--this is more for color than anything else. Don't salt it, because the salt pork should be sufficient.
The roasting pan went covered into a medium low oven for, well, hours, and she checked it periodically to see that the beans were cooking and the water not getting too low--if so, she added more. When she was satisfied it was done, she skimmed off some of the excess liquid--and they like to eat that as a light soup for lunch. Her husband says it's best to reheat the cassoulet a couple times over the next couple days, before serving--to bring the flavors together.
The result was meats that melted on the tongue like communion wafers, in a flavorful stew of perfectly cooked beans.
I'm a little pastry chief in France, still learning and really passionate. It's been five months that I did'nt studiy or practise and I miss that so much. I never stop talking about this. I decided to travel in south america to learn everything I can. I'm actually in Central Colombia, and I will travel to Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia and maybe a little bit more if I want to. I have time until march, more or less.
My project is to go in the farms and meet the people who grow up the raw material I use for make my pastries, Talk to them and see the plantation would be really helpfull for me to understand how does it works. If people need, I'm volunteer for work in exchange with accomodation and food for a few days. My spanish is not good yet, but I'm learning and sometimes it's more funny to not speak the same language. I'm interested about everything, exotic fruits, citrus, coffee, cacao, sesame, pepper, spices...
If some of you is, knows or works with farmers or pastry chiefs in those countries, I would be glad to meet you/them and learn everthing about the work. We can exchange good recipe too.
Thank you very much,
By Paul Fink
This unfortunately titled book changed my life. I always enjoyed cooking and idealized Julia Child &
Jacque Pepin. But I was a typical home cook. I would see a recipe and try to duplicate it little understanding about what I was doing.
Cooking the Nouvelle Cuisine in America talked about a philosophy of cooking. It showed me that there is more depth to cooking. A history. A philosophy.
The recipes are very approachable and you can make them on a budget from grocery store ingredients. I read it as a grad student in Oregon, in the late 80's I had access to lots of fresh ingredients. And some very nice wines, cheap! I was suppose to be studying physics but I end up learning more about wine & cooking.
Here is the discussion thread.
Here is the Amazon link.
My first recipe was Mushroom Mapo Tofu p. 132 I was blown away by how good this tasted. Very spicy! Very authentic. I didn't miss the meat at all. I told Mr. Smokey I'd add ground pork next time and he said it didn't need it. Mr. Smokey refused pork? Ha!
Definitely a keeper and maybe a regular rotation spot.
If I had anything negative to say, it would be the dish wasn't very filling. The recipe is suppose to serve four but the two of us finished it off, no problem, and Mister wasn't full afterwards. A soup, or an appetizer could be paired with the dish to make a heartier meal.
Note: I did receive a complimentary copy of the book to review, but all opinions of the book and recipes are mine.
Everytime I make Coq au Vin or similar chicken dishes the recipe calls for browning the chicken (creating a nice crispy skin) and then removing it only to return it to the dish to finish by braising in liquid. Unfortunately, when cooked in liquid, my chicken ends up losing its crispiness and turning grey and soggy.
What am I doing wrong, or what can I do to retain then crispy factor?
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